Children’s Ministry Effectiveness Model
The ultimate statement of effectiveness is a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ for each child. We believe that if ministry solutions help children to become active disciples of Christ…living in that saving relationship…then the ministry has been effective.
These are, however, very challenging “bottom line” criteria to observe and measure. As a result, the following 23 factors have been identified and defined by GenOn Ministries to represent the tangible ministry characteristics that we believe underlie a ministry’s consistent ability to build young disciples.
(The criteria below represent one perspective on this discussion but we believe it will stimulate your thinking – stretching your thinking is one of our goals – Aim Lower Journal Team)
Instructions for Using the Children’s Ministry Effectiveness Model
Determine who will be participating in this evaluation, and distribute a copy of the Model to each person. Downloadable copies can be found on the Genon website. Ask each person to indicate his/her personal assessment of where your church is with each factor by coloring in the circle with the appropriate color as described:
RED: Stop. This is not generally true at our church.
YELLOW: Caution. Sometimes true but there is room for improvement.
GREEN: Go! Great! This factor is a strength at our church!
Strongly encourage all those who have completed the Model to gather for a discussion about the results. Discuss the ratings and observations at this meeting. Determine key outcomes for your congregation.
- Focus first on the Impactful section: Where are you falling short? Help the group come to consensus about 3-4 factors that they feel your church most needs to work on, and list on newsprint.
- Examine the factors in the Purposeful and Practical Again, help the group come to consensus about 3-4 factors that they feel your church most needs to work on, and list on newsprint.
- Post both newsprints. Discuss together how any concerns about factors in the Purposeful & Practical sections might be causing some of the concerns identified in the Impactful
- Next, for each Purposeful and Practical concern that the group has identified, discuss:
- How strongly do we believe that we need to address this concern?
- What will happen if we decide NOT to address this concern?
- What will happen if we DO make changes to address this concern?
- How would these changes affect our congregation? Our pastor(s)? Other staff? Our budget? Building use? What else?
- Based on discussion to this point, prioritize the concerns that the group has agreed to focus on for changes.
- Consider: Who else needs to be “on board” for the necessary changes to happen? Convene a gathering that includes these people, to repeat this assessment / evaluation process with the expanded group.
- In collaboration with this expanded group, discuss ideas about how your church can be more purposeful and practical in order to make a greater impact. Explore:
- Resources to read
- Training to seek
- Possible actions to take
- Formulate a specific action plan to address prioritized concerns and desired changes.
- Assign tasks to individuals or teams, and agree upon a timeline for changes, with periodic checkpoints for accountability and adjustments as needed.
PURPOSEFUL: Is the congregation intentional about why children’s ministry is vital for the church?
The church demonstrates an intentional commitment to children.
- Adequate funding for children’s ministry is in church budget.
- Person(s) on staff are dedicated to children’s ministry.
- Worship planning team purposely plans for child-friendly worship services.
- Planning congregational programming & events is always inclusive of children.
The congregation treats the children’s ministry as an integral ministry of the whole church.
- Children’s ministry has equal priority with other ministries of the church.
- More than just “babysitting,” children’s ministry serves spiritual development of young people.
- A significant number of adults of all ages serve in children’s ministry.
The church’s children’s ministry is based upon a strong foundation of Christian relationships.
- Congregation-wide policies with clear rules and boundaries exist to protect and empower children (Safe Sanctuaries, discipline).
- Children feel valued and important in the life of the congregation.
- Learning includes purposeful opportunities to form healthy friendships guided by Christ’s example.
The children’s ministry is a balanced approach to nurturing the mind, body, and soul of children.
- Christian education includes cognitive learning, practical opportunities for applying that learning, and experiences of the mystery of God.
- Teaching methods address the multiple intelligences and various learning styles of children.
- Children learn about Christian faith and have opportunities to practice putting it into action.
Clergy are clearly “on board” and are engaged with the ministry, leading the integration of children’s ministry into the life of the church.
- Clergy hold up the importance of children’s ministry and lead the way.
- Preaching and worship planning model the priority of inclusion of children.
- Clergy are supportive of adults serving in children’s ministry.
PRACTICAL: Does the congregation have an effective plan and approach for implementing and sustaining the children’s ministry?
The church offers opportunities to equip and support parents in their role as primary spiritual guide for their children.
- Parenting classes are offered regularly.
- Effective parenting skills are encouraged and affirmed in all aspects of the congregation’s life
- The church provides resources and support for at-home spiritual guidance for families.
The church uses an intentional call process to involve adults in the ministry.
- Prayer and discernment by a group of people is employed to discover leaders throughout the entire congregation.
- Call teams are organized to prayerfully consider the gifts, talents and call of God for each adult member of the congregation.
- The church avoids “asking for volunteers” and “recruiting bodies to fill jobs.”
The Children’s Ministry Team is intentionally defined and members are rotated regularly.
- Members of the leadership team for children’s ministry are called and given a position description with term limits.
- Using position descriptions and term limits is seen as part of a healthy process that encourages new ideas and prevents burnout
Many adults with a variety of gifts are involved in the children’s ministry; there is a high ratio of adults to children.
- The congregation understands that the need for group ratios [adult: children] is for more than safety reasons; high ratios help the relationship-building process.
- There is a regular process by which adults are invited to discover their spiritual gifts and talents and are invited to use those gifts in ministry.
The church regularly engages in training offered by outside resources.
- The church acknowledges that being trained, refreshed, renewed by experts outside the congregation can bring new energy, new ideas, and new/renewed vision to ministry.
- The children’s ministry team regularly seeks the best and most appropriate training for its volunteers.
The church offers regular in-house orientation, training, preparation and support for ministry volunteers.
- The church calendar includes regularly scheduled events that support volunteers.
- The church budget includes money for fellowship [relationship-building events] and for training.
- Children’s ministry leaders understand that they have been called by God and are commissioned in worship.
The range of ages served by the children’s ministry is driven by intent and strategy…not by happenstance.
- The children’s ministry team understands basic child development, the stages of faith for children, and their ways and styles of learning.
- The children’s ministry team intentionally plans its offerings in collaboration with the ministries to youth and adults – and If applicable, with its church-related school.
Bible Study curriculum is chosen and used in a purposeful manner – supporting stated learning objectives.
- The children’s ministry team, in conjunction with a church educator or other church professional, recommends Bible curriculum that reflects the beliefs and practices of its congregation and/or denomination.
- Bible curriculum for different purposes [Sunday School, after-school ministry, VBS, nursery, children’s church, etc.] is chosen so that each complements or builds on the other, and thus builds overall Bible competency.
Children regularly provide leadership in worship.
- Children are seen as an essential part of the worshipping congregation.
- Those who plan worship for the congregation find ways to incorporate the gifts and talents of children into worship leadership
- Encouraging children to be part of worship is always under consideration
The children’s ministry is open to the community, particularly the unchurched, and is a tool for outreach.
- Events are planned that attract unchurched children/families from the community.
- Visiting children and their families find a warm and friendly welcome that offers friendship with no pressure.
- Congregations with a church-related school welcome all children and their families to events held by both entities, creating opportunities for outreach.
Children learn and practice what it means to provide mission and service to others.
- Through a variety of learning opportunities, children are taught the importance of service to others.
- Projects and events are planned and implemented that involve children in ministry to others in the congregation.
- Projects and events are planned and implemented that involve children in ministry to those outside of the congregation.
IMPACTFUL: Is the effect of the children’s ministry truly reflective of ministry and not programming?
The environment is positive, enthusiastic, energized, and uplifting.
- Visitors to your congregational programs/events/activities, including worship, report a sense of celebration.
- Adults and children know who they are and whose they are, and convey the joy of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ what they do and say.
- This joy spills over into every meeting or event and energizes the congregation.
Individuals involved in the children’s ministry demonstrate observable spiritual growth in their commitment to Christ.
- Children make a conscious and public decision to be more like Jesus, according to the practices of your congregation.
- The behavior of children demonstrates their relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
The ministry nurtures relationships throughout where people treat each other based on Christ’s example.
- All ministry leaders need to understand this foundational principle for effective ministry: Relationships are everything to God.
- People of all ages strive to treat every person as a child of God.
- Differences of opinion, as well as outright conflict, are subject to a Biblical process and prescription for resolution.
- Systems/processes/support are in place to help adults and children build relationships and resolve conflict.
Healthy and active inter-generational relationships are observable during the regular “programming” and beyond.
- Children, youth and adults are encouraged, trained, and mentored in the art of building and maintaining relationships.
- Adults informally and regularly interact with children at church; children and adults know each other’s names.
The children’s ministry has a low turnover of children year-after-year and the number of children involved in the ministry grows over time.
- Growing numbers that include returning participants indicate that relationships are being built, and that the program/event/activity has meaning for those involved.
- Children bring their friends to events, programs and/or worship.
The ministry is sustainable – maintaining its vitality through significant organizational and people changes.
- The purpose, goal and success of any program / event / activity in children’s ministry has more impact than any specific personality or leader.
- There are simple and effective plans for maintaining leadership and programs / events / activities during times of transition that ensure continuation of children’s ministry.
Unchurched children and their families become involved in the children’s ministry.
- Programs and events offered by children’s ministry – and, if applicable, by its church-related school – seek to be inclusive of families from outside the church.
- “Outsiders” are made to feel welcome and return because of the nurturing, healthy Christian relationships they experience, as well as the holy fun and warm fellowship of the program / event / activity.
- The “church” is relevant, supportive, and non-threatening.
- Some visitors and guests attend regularly and some become members of the church.
The church actively offers support of other churches in children’s ministry effectiveness.
- The church avoids focusing only inward, seeking opportunities to expand their knowledge and understanding of God’s plan for all of us.
- The children’s ministry team seeks out chances to network with other like-minded people who highly value children’s ministry.
- When doing effective children’s ministry, the church feels obligated to “pass it on” in the spirit of Christ and understands that competitiveness between churches is a no-win situation for everyone.
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